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Speaker’s story shows what love can do

Love does. It is the title of Bob Goff’s New York Times best-selling book and the topic of his chapel sermon during the first half of Leadership Week sponsored by the Soderquist Business Center.

The week’s theme is “Saving the World, Step 1: Secretly incredible in a world obsessed by celebrity.” Goff provided a simple answer to the problem in his message Tuesday.

“Let’s be extravagant with our love,” he exclaimed.

With sweeping hand gestures and an animated voice, Goff gave example after example of how he has loved extravagantly. Whether crowd-surfing a pastor, chatting on walkie-talkies with a sick neighbor or rescuing hundreds of Ugandan children from jail cells and witch doctors, Goff portrayed exactly what “love does.”

Goff referenced 1 John 3:18, which states God’s children do not “love with words and speech but with actions and truth.” He said he realized one day that he was “stalking” Jesus. He had gathered all this information about Jesus, but he was not doing anything with it.

Goff said we “do stuff” to answer two questions:

Who are ya?

What do you want?

Once students know the answers to those two questions, they can begin to “live out a life worthy of the calling you have received.”

Goff then told the story of a pastor who invited him to speak. Two days before he came, the pastor called and said his son had been diagnosed with leukemia. When Goff came to speak, instead of having the congregation symbolically lay hands on the pastor, he had them crowd-surf the pastor so everyone could physically hold him up.

“When people ask me what is the body of Christ, do you know what it is?” Goff asked. “You guys crowd-surfing each other. You do not live a symbolic faith. When tough stuff happens on this campus and in your family, you crowd-surf each other. You hold each other up.”

Goff went on to say that if students are going to live a life worthy of their calling, then they cannot be afraid. God commanded Joshua, Jeremiah, Abram, and the disciples, “Be not afraid.”

When Goff discovered his neighbor had been diagnosed with cancer, he decided he was not going to call her anymore. Instead, he went to Radio Shack and bought a pair of walkie-talkies. From then on, they only chatted through the walkie-talkies, even in the hospital. Goff said she may not have long in this world, but she is no longer afraid.

Goff ended with a story of one of his trips to Uganda. There he met a little boy he called Charlie, who had survived an encounter with a witch doctor who sacrificed children. Through Charlie’s testimony, Goff was able to prosecute the witch doctor and save many children’s lives.

The encounter led to many more incredible events including:

  • Goff becoming the Consul to Uganda.
  • The salvation of the prosecuted witch doctor, which in turn led to the salvation of many prisoners on death row.
  • The transformation of witch doctors’ practices of child sacrifice in the Ugandan bush.

“We lift each other up,” Goff said. “No more symbolic faith. We aren’t just settling for that anymore. We do that in this campus in tough times and bad times, we will change our world. And it starts right here in Siloam Springs.”

Students reflected on his message and thought about what it would take to live a life worthy of their calling.

“Like he said today, being afraid, a lot of times personally that is my biggest hold back,” junior Chase Skelton said. “I am afraid of what people think of me or what will happen, but we just have to love extravagantly.”

After the Q and A session in the Soderquist Business Center, students took away the idea they must be persistent. Senior Andrea Good said she really resonated with Goff’s story of being rejected from law school and waiting outside the office for 11 days until the dean finally told him to grab his books.

“Things suck now but you keep pushing through it,” she said. “You love people with the love of Christ. Yeah, love does.”

Jon Acuff, author and blogger known for “Stuff Christians Like,” will speak in chapel today for the second half of Leadership week.